n Scrutiny2 - Translating the nation : Phaswane Mpe and the fiction of post-apartheid

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-5359


This paper attempts to read a much-celebrated "post-apartheid" novel, the late Phaswane Mpe's <I>Welcome to our Hillbrow</I>, against South Africa's complex and in many ways compromised multilingual language policy. It uses the history of that policy (loaded as it is with the dominance of English and the problems associated with standardizing the African languages) as a material expression of the fraught nature of a non-exclusionary South African-ness, and investigates the novel's engagement with that history. In particular, it focuses on the non-'national" spin of post-apartheid politics, asking if the novel's fictional formulations in this regard are adequate to the issues it takes on. Central to the novel's approach is its sustained use of the second person for its mode of address. The paper relates this to the way in which the autobiographical elements of the novel speak through and to post-apartheid concerns with identity, xenophobia, language, and AIDS.

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